Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders: Diversity is a divine approach that calls on us to be open towards others and unify our efforts in confronting global challenges
The Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, participated in the Astana International Forum held in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on Thursday. The forum carried the mission statement ‘Tackling Challenges through Dialogue: Towards Cooperation, Prosperity and Progress’ and brought together over 1,000 participants from 70 countries, including leaders, heads of state, government officials, international organization directors, and representatives. The event consists of over 40 panel discussions and activities covering topics related to peace promotion, diversity, the global order, climate challenges, and more.
In his speech during the panel discussion titled ‘Coming Together or Moving Apart: The Future of Multilateralism’ the Secretary-General emphasized that humanity faces two options: either convergence or fragmentation while stressing the importance of managing diversity, establishing its values, building awareness within societies, and developing institutional and legal mechanisms. Alternatively, Abdelsalam added that if we move towards further fragmentation, we should be prepared for the high cost of division, conflict, and the tragic consequences it entails.
Judge Abdelsalam highlighted that diversity, in its various manifestations—religious, cultural, and social—represents human diversity in origin and cultural components. and that it also reflects divine wisdom. Abdelsalam also posed questions, such as how can humans, as creations, allow themselves to hate others contrary to the Creator’s will? How can human will diverge from what God’s wisdom and human nature necessitate?
The Secretary-General also emphasized that our responsibility to establish a serious and constructive dialogue about the future of diversity and its options requires us to be open to diverse social and cultural experiences within our world. He urged the need to examine paths of diversity in our era as expressions of these experiences with the goal of establishing a positive relationship between Islam and the Western world, especially Europe, in strategic fields of identity, culture, and society. He also affirmed the importance of achieving positive integration and confronting all forms of bigotry, hatred, and Islamophobia.
Judge Abdelsalam stated that the Muslim Council of Elders, under the chairmanship of His Eminence Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar is making concerted efforts to promote the values of peace, coexistence, and respect for others. He mentioned that the historic Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity has laid down several guidelines, principles, and foundations governing coexistence among all people, despite their differences and diversity. Additionally, the friendship between the Grand Imam and Pope Francis, the Pontiff of the Catholic Church, has established an inspiring model for the relationship between religious leaders and paved the way for a constructive dialogue that focuses on human commonalities.
The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to the government of Kazakhstan for organizing the Astana International Forum and for turning it into a global project for generating ideas to address urgent global problems and advancing dialogue among international actors with different specialties, perspectives, interests, and orientations.
The Astana International Forum was attended by figures from 70 countries, including leaders, heads of state, government officials, and directors of international organizations. Among them were President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, President Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyzstan, and various other leaders, heads of state, and officials from around the world.